Creating the right cultural esteem that can drive growth in organisations is a challenge that need to be addressed. Ochee Bamgboye, principal consultant, Oye Dynamix and director, Orbit Technologies Limited, in this interview with KELECHI EWUZIE shares how her organisation is using the right leadership training to proffer the right solutions to issues. Excerpts:
My first degree was a combined degree in English and Drama. After my first degree, I developed a passion for Law. After I graduated from Law School, my first job was in a law firm called Rhodes and Rhodes as a practice attorney. I worked there for a year and a half, and then I veered briefly into banking. I worked in a merchant bank for about six months and then decided that banking was not for me.
After I got married, I had to relocate to the US and then to the UK because my husband was living there at that time. While living in the UK, I worked first as a rights advocate and then worked in the civil service as a social policy analyst. I lived in the UK for about 13 years. During that time I also worked in various areas of development ranging from community development to people and organisational development.
About Oye Dynamix
Oye Dynamix is a social and learning development consulting firm. Our mission is to develop learning tools that boosts social learning and informal education. We concentrate capacity building, development consulting, research and production of resource materials that are relevant to the Nigerian environment.
Our products and services are based on social research and action research on issues that frame the way we learn social and think. We also provide resources and consultancy services in the area of development education such as vocational training, adult literacy and learner support.
Our materials are developed using brain friendly learning techniques and cognitive emotional pedagogy. Currently our education system pays very little attention to informal education and the impact it has on formal education. Instructional methods are also cumbersome and stringent so knowledge systems are very narrow. Our system is geared towards passing exams.
Students will excel in examinations but when it comes to applying what they have learnt or synthesising learning to form new knowledge that leads to innovation and inventions then you find that our students begin to struggle.
As you know, this is a highly competitive environment. In the past people so no value in informal education or social learning but we have found that these fundamental structures for wholesome learning and the bedrock of formal education. You cannot have one without the other.
Most private schools have started incorporating it into their pedagogy because with more and more research people are beginning to see the value here in Nigeria.
So we decided that we want to work behind the scene to help institutions and people to develop social learning skills to complement academic or functional excellence. We are passionate about our youth being able to compete in a global economy. Right now we are disadvantaged because our learning tools do not offer whole some learning experiences.
We focus on behavioural coaching and behavioural communication change programmes using tools from our research work. We also share our resources and tools with Orbit technologies consulting limited which is along the same line but we specifically working with the public sector. We’ve developed a lot of public sector training and national transformation programmes with Orbit for public officers.
One of the things we have noticed as an organisation, even though there are a lot of emphases on leadership development is that it is geared toward developing business acumen and strategies for gaining competitive advantage in the business.
One of the things that we have as our unique selling point is that our personal leadership is designed around what we call cultural esteem because we have discovered that it is at the core of self awareness and self development.
It is particularly important for us as a developing country, especially one is more or less obsessed with western and Eurocentric values, to begin to develop tools that teach the spirit so that people value themselves as Nigerians.
We need to begin to make enquiries about our indigenous cultural mindsets or local intelligence and how they help or hinder our development, because everything else is built around that. It is comparable to the foundation of a house that is being built. If there is no foundation then there is no house.
We have modules that we have designed to help people on that discovery and coaching towards becoming authentic from the point of view of your cultural esteem. I must admit that this was not easy to sell in the beginning especially because as a country we are obsessed with models and tools from America and the UK. But we believe in what we are doing. So we are forging ahead.
I have an empowerment leadership style. I believe that people thrive better when they are empowered to make informed choices. In the first instance, most people in this environment expect to be told what to do but from the onset, I encourage my people to think for themselves.
I give room for what I call value experimentation, in other words learning from your mistakes as long as the consequences of that mistake are not catastrophic. In this environment the first reflex is to cover up errors, incompetence and mistakes because our learning system does not encourage exploration.
If you make a mistake, that is it, you are punished so most people are conditioned to find ways of covering up or justifying errors and incompetence. I believe in developing leaders, I believe in personal leadership. I believe that with appropriate coaching leaders should be able to delegate at least 70 percent of their work. If as a leader you are still doing all the work or is the only custodian of knowledge then there is something wrong.
Well, I think that one of the biggest challenges that I have come across is the course of my present work is getting people to be open to critical reflection. Our society is naturally a closed one so people are not given to talking about the way the feel or their past experiences.
It is one of the challenges, as you know your cognitive mindset is the way that you think. So obviously if the framework of how you think is closed and somebody is coming to tell you that you have to change the way that you think before you can open up and gain further knowledge, then breaking that barrier is a challenge.
I find out that because of the place we are in Nigeria as a social entity people are beginning to call for a change in thinking so it has more or less become a natural playing ground for our work because over time we have being trying to explain to people that there is a value in developing the social/informal learning domain. Most organisations look at their workforce and are satisfied that they have hired the best hands.
Research has shown that only four percent of organisational success can be attributed to IQ. This is more or less empirical if you use the Nigerian situation as a study. We have one of the strongest indicators for being a super nation on paper.
We also have one of the most brilliant minds when it comes to academic excellence but it does not translate to organisational intelligence. It does not translate to collective productivity or seamless operational activity, so we have come to a point now where people are being forced to ask the right questions. What is wrong? And how can we begin to rectify this? People are beginning to look for alternatives.
Though Nigeria has the benefit of being an oil producing country, we are still a semi-industrialised nation still trailing behind the West. Nothing within our policies protects indigenous businesses from being swallowed up by the stiff competition that an open market brings.
The global organisations have competitive advantage since locally we lack the tools or financial resources to compete favourably. Our youth also do not match up in terms of technical skills so we lose a lot of jobs to expatriates.
Work life/ family balance
Well for me, I am not struggling much now because my children are much older. In the early stages when they were young, I actually took a career break. I had to take time away from work. At a time I worked from home.
At another time I was only working four hours a day (part-time) so that was the way I managed the early years because I have a strong value in parenting. I believe that a mother is the primary educator of a nation.
There is a lot of personal development that goes into raising children because at the back of your mind you know that you have a lot to contribute to how the child will grow up and what they will become.
Ultimately you are a custodian, an agent that God has used to propel this child so it is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly. So it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that we are grooming children who will become adults who are of value to the society.
At the end of the day, anyone who becomes somebody in the society was mothered by someone and the influence of the mother, the training and orientation of the mother impacts on the person.
There is a saying that a mother represents all that is good and pleasant in the eyes of a child. So if a child begins to lose faith in his or her mother, the consequences can be damaging later in life. So I really concentrated on that for that period of time. Once they got into full time education, I then went back into full time employment.
We wanted the children to come to their roots, develop relationships here and also develop an orientation of being able to give back to the society they came from as opposed to giving back to a different society and I think that we achieved that. My children have a strong affinity for Nigeria even though they value the ability to fit in perfectly into two different cultures